Cook County Jury Sides with Doctors and Hospital in Infant’s Fatal Aspiration of Formula Case

Caden Glynn was born at 26 weeks, 5 days of gestation at Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora, Ill.  His early birth was attributed to his mother’s preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.  The HELLP syndrome is an acronym for hemolysis, the breaking down of red blood cells, EL for elevated liver enzymes and LP for low platelet count. 

HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening pregnancy complication that is often a variant of preeclampsia.

Caden’s birth weight was only about 1 lb. 12 oz.  After birth he was on a ventilator and feeding was started by a nasogastric tube.  At 44 days, Caden was found to be suffering from necrotizing enterocolitis and was ordered by a treating neurologist to receive nothing by mouth.

During the next 24-hour shift of care, Caden was assigned a neonatologist, Dr. Rom Kopparthi. 

Dr. Kopparthi ordered a restart of Caden’s feedings at 20 ml of formula over 2 hours, and he tolerated that feeding.  Before the second feeding was started, Caden self-extubated from the ventilator and had to be resuscitated.  In the process of resuscitation, Caden underwent chest compressions and thus, the second feeding was withheld.

Later that same night, feedings were restarted at 40 ml over 2 hours, but at the end of the 2-hour feeding, Caden vomited and aspirated the formula into his lungs. 

A code was called, but resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and Caden died on March 9, 2006.  The death certificate listed the causes of death as aspiration of formula, bronchopulmonary dysplasia and prematurity.

The family of Caden alleged that Dr. Kopparthi was negligent in doubling the amount of feeding after Caden showed signs of feeding intolerance and had apnea, brief interruptions of breathing, with bradycardia episode that caused a “stunned gut” which would not have allowed any kind of feeding to be tolerated. 

The family also maintained that Caden should have received nothing by mouth for 4 hours to allow his “stunned gut” to recover from the hypoxic events that occurred immediately prior to his feeding.

The family also claimed that the hospital’s nurses were negligent in following Dr. Kopparthi’s feeding order and should have known that the doctor’s order for 40 ml feeds was wrong and knowing that should have gone up the chain of command to stop those feedings from occurring.

The defendants asserted that it was appropriate to restart feedings at 40 ml since the baby had tolerated feedings the prior two days, that premature infants have frequent apnea episodes and bradycardia episodes and that the primary cause of Caden’s death was bronchopulmonary dysplasia with superimposed pneumonia.  It was reported that Rush Copley entered into a high-low agreement with the plaintiff’s counsel, although the amounts were not disclosed. 

The demand to settle the case before trial was $1,600,000.  The offer by Dr. Kopparthi was $25,000. 

The jury’s verdict was in favor of all of the defendants.    

Estate of Caden Glynn, deceased minor v. Dr. Rom Kopparthi, Rush Copley Medical Center, Inc., et al., No. 07 L 635 (Kane County, Illinois).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling birth injury cases and medical negligence claims for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Belmont Heights, Edison Park, Edgebrook, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, Scottyards), Maywood, Elmhurst, Northlake, River Grove, River Forest, Summit and LaGrange, Ill.

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